Bacterial overgrowth of the intestinal tract is thought to be one of the most common, and most often missed, causes of a variety of gastrointestinal problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome, gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation.
Bacterial overgrowth is often mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome, since its symptoms can be very similar. However, digestive problems such as those associated with irritable bowel syndrome are not the only symptoms of bacterial overgrowth. Bacterial overgrowth can also cause such symptoms as fatigue, and it is thought to play a role in such common conditions as chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, fibromyalgia, arthritis, lupus, diabetes and many autoimmune diseases.
What Is Bacterial Overgrowth?
To understand bacterial overgrowth, it is necessary to understand a little bit about the intestines. The intestinal tract, particularly the small intestine, is the most important part of the digestive tract, and nutrients from all the foods we eat are absorbed into the small intestine.
It is normal for the small intestine to contain a small amount of bacteria, but some factors can cause excess bacteria to grow. These excess bacteria can cause fats and carbohydrates in the diet to not be properly absorbed. Instead, these nutrients are left to determine in the intestinal tract, and this can lead to a number of problems, such as gas, bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Since many doctors do not fully understand the problem of bacterial overgrowth, it is often overlooked and improperly treated. There are, however, a number of effective natural cures for this common condition.
As with many common problems, diet can play a large role in the treatment of bacterial overgrowth. A diet low in carbohydrates can be very effective in reducing the number of bacteria in the small intestine.
During treatment, it is also important to limit the intake of sweet or starchy foods, since these foods can encourage the production of the bacteria that cause bacterial overflow.
In addition, herbs such as peppermint oil can be quite effective at eradicating these harmful bacteria. Probiotic treatment can also be effective, as this therapy can replace harmful bacteria with friendly ones. Popular probiotics include lactobacillus plantarum and lacrobactillus GG.
There are a number of herbal treatments for bacterial overgrowth. One of the most effective of these natural treatments is thought to be enteric coated peppermint oil. Enteric coated peppermint oil is peppermint oil that has been prepared with a hard, edible shell. This allows the peppermint oil to remain sealed until it reaches the small intestine, where it is effective at reducing the bacterial overgrowth.
The typical dose of enteric coated peppermint oil is usually one or two capsules, taken three times a day, between meals and with a glass of water. A typical treatment regimen will last from one to six months. Side effects noted with this treatment include heartburn, minty burping and burning in the rectum.
Other natural treatments that have shown promise in curbing bacterial overgrowth include grapefruit seed extra, oregano oil capsules, olive leaf extract and garlic.
Supplementation with digestive supplements has been shown to be effective against bacterial overgrowth. Taking one capsule prior to each meal is a typical what to take these supplements.
In addition, bacterial overgrowth can cause deficiencies of many important vitamins and minerals, so a good, high quality vitamin and mineral supplement may be necessary until the problem has been resolved. Common vitamins affected by bacterial overgrowth include vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc and copper.